The following is a reminder. To me.
My Oakland gym.
Much to my parents’ chagrin I’m known for telling people I was not blessed with good genetics.
I’m the product of a super-smart woman and a quite brainy male.
As a result, I come from a family that values brains over brawn.
The college years.
I coasted happily on my intellect with little focus on appearance or exercise — until my senior year of college.
Graduation time was upon us and I quickly realized the weight I’d gained over the past four years prevented me from fitting into any of interview suits.
I *had* noticed my jeans no longer fit and knew my “diet” was more late night pizza & gossip than early morning oatmeal & runs — but I was having fun.
I’d happily lived in a place of denial—-where the uniform was unbuttoned jeans covered by over-sized sweaters–but that time was ending.
It was time to make a change.
My healthy living path led…to the gym?!
I look back now and am baffled the “change” I chose lead me to my school’s small, Division-3 weight room.
It was dark, dirty, and rarely used by non-athletes, yet for some reason I felt called to venture in and eexplore.
I didn’t fall immediately in love. I stumbled into sorta-like.
I had no clue what I was doing, but thanks to my ability to mimic what I’d seen on television or skimmed in magazines I created a hodgepodge of a resistance training routine.
I used only machines I recognized (hello leg extensions!), and relied on body-weight exercises (many, many push-ups).
After about six weeks (thankfully never injured myself with my ignorance), I was making visible progress — and could at the very least fit into my jackets and skirts again.
After graduation I found myself returning to my parents’ house along with my freshly minted English Literature degree.
Unable to find a job,I joined a women-only fitness center to have something to do while I searched.
It was the early 90s and, while some women were lifting weights, there were still few of us in the free weights area.
I still had thirty pounds to lose, but my women-only choice was less about insecurity and more wanted the camaraderie of lifting weights with other women.
I had no idea when I made this decision it would impact the rest of my life.
Weight training in a female-only environment quickly moved my relationship with the iron from like to love.
- I felt comfortable to trying new exercises without fear of people laughing at the fact I was a newbie.
- I brought workout magazines to the gym and imitated their routines.
- I bought Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding and lugged it everywhere I went.
More isn’t always better.
I lifted daily day.
I grew bigger and stronger and I felt amazing.
Until I didn’t.
After about six months in my love for the weights began to wane.
I didn’t look forward to my workouts. My muscles began to shrink.
I lifted seven days a week and yet appeared as though I’d never hoisted a weight.
I grew skinny-soft.
It took me a while (my brand wasn’t previously a play on the word MISFIT for nothing), but I finally deduced I’d been overtraining.
I educated myself.
I learned to listen to my body and heed the fact it demanded rest in order to grow.
I began to eat intuitively and feed my muscles what they asked for.
I slowed down and still in all facets of my life.
It was then I realized most clearly I’d found my voice amidst the dumbbells and cables.
I had shed the extra pounds yet that was the least of the changes.
I walked taller. I spoke up in all situations with a confidence I never knew I possessed. I sought out new and uncomfortable experiences I’d previously avoided.
I felt capable, heard, and strong.
And I’ve never looked back.
Is there an end?
I’ve maintained my weight loss for 2+ decades and firmly believe it’s because weights, for me, are about more fitness.
I’m still lifting weights consistently at age 47.
My workouts are at 4am when I can snag ‘me’ time before ‘everyone else’ time begins.
At 23, I never imagined I’d be able both to maintain my weight loss and be more fit two decades later.
Looking ahead, I plan to be the old woman in the free weights area at 87.
If you happen by and spy me in there, please come over, snag a dumbbell, bang out a few reps, and share your story.
Until then I’d love to hear YOUR weights love story in the comments below.
Is your resistance training tale a work in progress or a torrid love affair already underway?